tv [untitled] June 17, 2012 9:00am-9:30am EDT
william howard taft. anything changed a century later? >> it doesn't sound like it. yeah, obviously people love money. want government to do things they want the government to do. people with little money do too. a lot of influence you have. if you have a lot of money obviously. and bryant was in favor of public finance in elections. he didn't want private individuals to give any money to elections. he realized that wasn't going to slide at the time. his idea at the time, was to publicize the donations that people give. make sure that it's above board. for example, in 1996, johnny rockefeller wrote a standard oil check for $250,000 and gave it to mark hanna and not known until after the election was over.
it sounds ar kayian and he can on thetic today, but the best way to think about it bryan wanted cheaper money and more money in people's pockets and sfw rates to go down so people can borrow easily. >> he gets the nomination in 1896 and renominated in 1900. what happened in 1904? >> in 1904 the democrats decided to go with a less exciting candidate who they thought could aappeal to a more traditional electorate. they nominated a guy that ran for judge before, parker from new york. a very gray candidate, i think it's fair to say. a man who did not go around the country giving speeches, but he was more like grover cleveland in many ways. he had some of bryan's politics,
not none of bryans charisma and appeal to order americans. he got killed in a landslide by roosevelt. >> the party comes back to bryan in 1908. why? >> well, the party is in graelt need of a leader, and it's a party divided by region. it had a great deal of difficulty uniting around a candidate and making its voice heard in the national election. bryan is that voice. he's a tremendous, charismatic figure. >> you had three republicans william kennedy assassinated and teddy roosevelt is president and william howard taft elected in 1908. let's go back to something else that was, i guess, rather revolutionary. set up the debate that took place and how that occurred technically speaking in 1908. >> there wasn't actually a
debate the way we have debates now. 1908 was the first time in which both candidates recorded speeches on wax cylinder, which things you can still hear renditions of them, perhaps you play one at the library of congress owns some copies. this was the original short-playing record. they didn't last very long. two or three minutes, but they went to studios and recorded them. this was bryan who sold these to campaign supporters. it would a way to hear bryan and taft without speaking to you directly. of course, we take that for granted now, but this was a new idea at the time. >> one of the campaign buttons of william jennings bryan in 1908, we begin with the word william howard taft followed by william jennings bryan. >> i had known a good many regular attendants although churn and distant members that
religiously if you choose to use that term refuse to contribute to foreign makes. i did not realize the immense importance r of foreign missions. the froout is we have to wake up in this country. we are not all there is in the world. there are lots besides us, and there are lots of people besides us that are entitled to our money and sacrifice to help them on the in world. >> imperialism is the empire and it's different races living under varying forms of government. a republic cannot be a empire, for the public wrestles with the theory that government has their powers from the governor and colonialism invites the theory. our experiment is colonialism has been unfortunate. instead of loss glory it has brought humiliation.
>> did william jennings bryan change as a candidate in his third campaign? >> the key issue in 1896 was the gold and silver issue and the depression and class divisionses. the big issue in 1900 was imperialism. the u.s. was fighting in the philippines to try to stop the philippines independence movement from winning a war against the u.s. occupation in those islands. that was a big issue in that campaign. 1908 there were several issues. bryan tried to make the power of the trust, the power of the corporations. his slogan said let the people rule. taft was perceived as progressive telt. he was the secretary of war under roosevelt.
roosevelt is a progressive president. in many ways similar it to if some of your viewers remember, george h.w. bush in 1988 running as sort of the hand-picked successor to ronald reagan. george h.w. bush was not a tremendously charismatic figure certainly, but if people liked reagan, if you like reagan, i guess i can vote for bush. similarly, people liked roosevelt tend to think, we'll be safe with taft. that's why he won. so bryan tried to use a lot of the same rhetorical techniques. he talked to hundreds of thousands of people in that campaign as he did before, but it wasn't very successful. the country was prosperous again after a sharp recession in 1907. so times are fairly good. taft was popular because he was the hand-picked successor to a very popular president
roosevelt, so bryan couldn't get much traction that year. >> his closest rate was 1896 as we look at the election results. we're joined by marie from connecticut. go ahead, marie. >> caller: thank you very much. i'd like to know how did bryan come to live in miami, florida? >> in fact, boca raton, florida -- coral gables, florida. >> his wife mary got crippling arthritis when she lived in the house. she couldn't live in the winter climate of nebraska any longer. so miami was beginning to be a place for older people to go if they could aafford to, and also he had been in the south before, so they'd go to miami and stay at friends' houses before and they decided to move there.
it was a very good move for mary certainly. >> you tell a story in the book about how he was used to help bring other people to coral gables, including the venetian pool that was there today. >> he became a proeter in the 1920s as he gave up all hope of becoming president, he began to make money giving speeches for land promoters. this was not one of his, you know, more sort of honorable adventures, perhaps, but after all, he needed to make money and he did. >> again, just to understand this period, we move into 1912, and a democrat finally wins the white house but it's not bryan. >> right. it's woodrow wilson. and the democrats had struggled for a long time and bryan led the struggle for the republican party and for the votes of working people, i think, and the broad middle class. the republicans were able over
that period to co-op many of the issues that the populists and democrats had brought forward and develop their agenda as a progressive party. theodore roosevelt was the master of this, and bryan and the democrats had a very difficult time reaching that broad middle class and convincing voters that they could bring progressive change, not radical change, but progressive change. wilson was able to do that. he was a professor at princeton, and he said able to success seed where bryan was not. >> you want to follow-up? >> the only reason wilson won is because the republican party split in 1912. taft proved not to be a really progressive successor to roosevelt, at least roosevelt doesn't think so and he tries to get the nomination away from
taft in 1912 but fails to. for republicans to stay united, we'll never know what would happened, but it's possible wilson would not have been elected. >> michael and teaches politics and history at georgetown university and will thomas is the chair of the history department in lincoln, nebraska at the university of nebraska and josh joins us from phoenix. good evening. welcome to the program. >> caller: good evening. great show. thank you for your show. i wanted to ask something a little different. i wanted to see p if the gentleman could speak to mr. bryan's foreign policy and what he thought about, say, the spanish american war or american european colonialism. if you ever went abroad, and what would the gentlemen think how he would handle, for example, now afghanistan and iraq and the invasion?
what was his mindset back then in terms of, you know, how the major colonial powers around the world were going into other countries and controlling them and such? what was his theory about that, about all of that and how did he feel? in general his foreign policy. thank you very much. >> he served as our secretary of state. >> after all, he served in the sparchish american war, but once the war ended, he opposed the occupation of the philippines. he was an anti-i am beer yalist. he did travel around the world for the whole year with his family being financed by william
randolph i who we wrote articles for. he went to indonesia, which was then chromed by the dutch, india controlled by the british. he stopped and denounced the european powers who controlled those not countries. that doesn't mean he was opposed to all wars. he was opposed to unjust wars, and when secretary of state, he resigned as secretary of state in 1915 because he thought united states was about to enter world war i. after this large british passenger ship was for bead yoed by a german u-boat. the u.s. did not get into the war at that time, but he resigned as secretary of state because he was so opposed tworld war i. he that it it was an insane war the united states shouldn't be part of it. >> what was his relationship
like with woodrow wilson during the campaign in 1912 and his tenure as secretary of state. >> 1912 he comes around to supporting wilson in the convention in baltimore in 1912. he supports wilson in that convention, and it helps to put wilson over the top where he needed two thirds of delegate votes to win. it was an old style convention, 46 ballots. but he and wilson never were close. wilson had not supported bryan in 1896. wilson was a more conservative democrat up until 1908-1909, and so the two didn't really trust each other. wilson came to this house at one point, came it to fairview and was not impressed by it. he was an intellectual and bryan was an non-intellectual. he was dispar raging of bryan's intelligence and interest in the world. the two were not close. bryan became secretary of state because it was a political appointment. at the time it was not unusual
for the leading figure in the party, who was not the nominee, to be nominated secretary of state by an incoming president. in many ways wilson expected to be his own secretary of state. one of the reasons bryan was unhappy as secretary of state is he didn't get the responsibility he would have wanted. one thing he did do which shows something about his views about war and peace, he put together -- he convinced various foreign power to sign peace treaties with one another saying they would not go to war with one another. these were symbolic but he gave them each a little bronze plow share with the line from isaiah being your source into plow shares as a cymbsimilaymbol of treaties. it didn't stop world war i. for bryan as a good christian showing a humanitarian face to the world was one way of acting
in more humanitarian ways. >> larry join us from delaware. >> caller: thank you for visiting with me. i have a religious question about bryan's religion, but i first aapplaud his efforts to level of playing field for the common man against big business. what impact does your panel think bryan's fundamental christian religious beliefs have an impact on his election results? >> thanks for the call. we should point out, too, the bible is open to the book of ezeke yal in his desk directly below where we're at in his parlor in fairview. what about the role of religion in his life and his wife's life? >> it's a big question. one of the things about bryan
that's important is he never separated religion and politics. we think of that now as some more conservative people think that you should have a christian government and america is a christian nation. for bryan his christianity was a applied christianity. he believed if you were a good christian, you want to save the world and help the poor and help workers and level the playing field as the caller mentioned. so for him his religion and politics were not separate. in some ways i think this hurt him among some people that weren't evangelisprotestants, a supported prohibition beginning in 1910 and was a very big supporter of what became the 18th amendment to the constitution. this was a very, you know, decisive issue in american life.
the came to prohibition because hemented to purify the american politics. to him this was a christian issue. a lot of people from 1910 on didn't trust him because he was a procehibitionist. >> sometimes he ate as many as six meals a day, and he was known to devour three chickens at one sitting. >> this is the contenders series, we're looking at 14 candidates for the presidency that lost, but in their own way shaped american politics and resonate today with the ishs they put forth. we're coming to you from his home in lincoln, nebraska referred to see a fairview. it's part of the medical center in the state capital. and our phone lines are open for viewers in the eastern and central time zones and
202-737-0002 in the mountain and pacific time zones. this is an extr vur for what it looks like. you can the bryan lgh medical center directly ajace isn't. it's open to the public and offers tours for those who travel through lincoln, nebraska. nadine is joining us from california? >> i'm from desert hot springs nir palm springs in california, and i have like a kodak picture in my files. he has a relationship with my fami family. i have jeanology. i'm not a mormon and i research my family and i have 6200 names in it. and i would like to know about buying the book or speeches of what you have and how much it is and where i send the money.
>> well, before you get an answer to that question, we want to ask you who is in the photograph, and what is your connection with william jennings bryan, at least through your own family research? >> caller: as far as i know, he's in a car in this picture. it's like a kodak picture, and he's in the car with -- it's a single -- looks like a single seater with the top down. and i always thought the other man was the one whose name i can't remember who didn't believe in religion. i'm 94 years old and almost 95. i can't remember his name now. i have this, and he's in my family. i have 6200 names i've researched, and on my computer. i don't say i'd like to have
that one. i research them to make sure they're my relative. >> stay on the line, and we're going to try to get your phone number if there's a way we can get you connected with mr. casson directly and his book is called "a godly hero." stay on the line, and we will get your phone number. he brings up another part of his life. dayton, tennessee, the monkey scopes trial and clarence darrow. >> we have put all his speeches from 1896 on line or our digital project. if she'd like to use her computer to look at those speeches, there are hundreds of them. every speech he gave in the 1896 presidential campaign is online on the railroads in the making of modern america website that we started at the university of nebraska, lincoln. >> all the material from this series is available online, 14 weeks looking at presidential contende contenders,
thecontenders.cspans.org is the website. the scopes trial. >> in many ways bryan is known by americans because he was prosecutors in this trial in tennessee in july 1925, which was prosecuting a teacher named john scopes who was teaching the theory of evolution in high school, in dayton, tennessee. you know, what's sfwing about this is this issue is still very much aalive with us, of course. a large number of americans believe that it is bible, the book of genesis is how the earth was formed. bryan believed that, too. for bryan one of the things he disliked about the theory of evolution, he thought it was not just darwinism but social
darwinism. he believed it was the survival of the fittest and he put out a series of lectures about evolution before the scopes trial, which was entitled "brother versus brute." for him to be a good christian meant that you were against the theory, the social theory of evolution. he up didn't really understand the science very well, but he believed rightly or wrongly that the way the science was being aapplied by some people that did very well in american society, by some people in the military was that those who were doing well in society were those who should do well, who were biologically inclined to come out on top. this is one of the things he disliked about the theory. again, he was a fundamentalist and he believed what the bible said was true. so he thought school children shouldn't be learning something which would counteract that. >> there is an iconic photograph of clarence darrow and william jennings bryan in 1925 in tennessee. how did the two come together for this historic moment in
american history? >> well, bryan was asked by the prosecution to help in the trial. this was a state law that was passed that year in tennessee. they knew that if bryan helped them this would draw a lot of attention to the case. once clarence darrow, this great defense lawyer for labor candidates, labor figures luke eugene debz and many others, when he heard bryan a former friend by the way was going to be -- work for the prosecution darrow said he had to be on the other side on the aclu, the american civil liberties union that begun several years before financed the defense of scopes. one thing people should know about this. people might have seen the famous movie starring spencer tracy as the dar row chashlgt and frederick march as the bryan chakt. unlike what the movie shows you, scopes never went to jail. scopes was basically a -- he
agreed to be a defendant because he knew a trial was going to take place somewhere in tenlz. his town of dayton, tennessee where he taught high school was hurting economically. he wanted to bring business to dayton, tennessee. that's why the trial took place there. scopes adpreeed to be a defendant. >> technology was a factor in this trial. cameras were allowed inside the courtroom, and it was broadcast nationwide on radio. >> right. one of the things that is so remarkable about this trial is not only that it was broadcast on the radio and tens of thousands of americans listened to it, but it also -- it was a courtroom, and for bryan to try to defend his christianity and creationism in the courtroom, it was the context of the courtroom and cross-examination that made it so difficult for bryan to say what he really meant and what he was trying to convey about the importance of creation in his thinking and about the social
darwinist logic that, as he saw it, was infected american society, as michael pointed out. it was a very difficult context in which to make that argument, and so bryan ends his life really in a sort of man out of context. making an argument in a place where unlike 1896 where the context was perfect for bryan to make the cross of gold speech. the context of the courtroom in dayton, tennessee, proved very challenging for bryan. >> go ahead, please. >> caller: hi. i'm calling because i noticed that the gold standard debate appears to have made a comeback recently with networks like cnbc having debates whether the gold standard should be brought back, and people come out arguing against the gold standard and against the federal reserve and for the government's ability to print its own currency. those people in particular
almost always quote william jennings bryan for their argument. my question for the panel is if they see any ways in which his cross of gold sfeech in 1896 is relevant to the america we live in today. ron paul has talked about the federal reserve and governor perry is critical of ben bernanke making xhenlts about him. >> well, the gold and sill verp standard, the legacy of that debate, i think, was among other things the federal reserve system. it was getting off the gold standard eventually in the early 1930s. what bryan wanted and those who were on his side in this debate wanted was a more flexible money supply. they wanted, you know, in hard times, interest rates to go down and more money in circulation in prosperous times and they were happy to go up. the kind of thing the fed does
today. a lot of americans thought it was a great reform. we get in economic trouble like now, people look for panaceas, going back to the gold standard, for example. i think, you know, as a historian i think that in many ways one of the reasons we're able to avoid serious economic downturns between the great depression and now is because we have had a flexible money supply and the fed is able to take charge when necessary. i don't know if you have a different point of view. >> i think one of the big issues brian was trying to confront with the silver issue and gold standard was the great contraction of the american economy. we lived through a similar contraction in the american economy recently, and so i think it's not surprising that some of these issues are coming forward when they are right now. i think that the difference is, of course, that bryan's efforts to broaden the money supply were
mainly aimed at trying to rescue a class of americans who were struggling deeply with their financial well-being in their situation. so i don't see that quite playing out today in the same way when the gold standard is brought up. >> our two history professors representing georgetown university and the university of nebraska at lincoln, michael casson is the author "a godly hero: the life of william jennings bryan." he teaches history here. he's also the author of iron way. harold is joining us from youngstown, ohio. good evening. >> caller: good evening. it seems rather ironic that many of the parallels from william jennings bryan's day is our day, it's just amazing where, again, we're arguing soft money versus hard money. and we